October 19, 2010

Global Internet, Text Message Use Growing Exponentially

The number of people using the Internet has doubled over the past five years, and the number of text messages sent worldwide has tripled since 1997, according to statistics published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on Tuesday.

The ITU, the information technologies and communication arm of the United Nations (UN), reports that the use of short messaging services, or SMS, has jumped from an estimated 1.8 trillion in 2007 to 6.1 trillion in 2010. Furthermore, the agency calculates that at an average cost of seven cents per message, SMS traffic generates approximately $14,000 every second, and that the U.S. and the Philippines combined accounted for more than one-third of the total number of messages sent last year.

The agency also reports that the total number of global Internet users will surpass the two billion mark before the end of the year. Of those, more than half (1.2 billion) are citizens of developing countries, and according to Reuters, 162 million of the 226 million people first using the Internet in 2010 are from emerging nations. The ITU reports that China, with over 420 million Internet users, is the largest online market on Earth, while the penetration rate is lowest in African, where less than one out of every ten people has access to email and the World Wide Web.

In developed countries, the UN tech agency notes that 71% of households own a computer, and 65.6% have access to the Internet. In comparison, only 22.5% of those in developing nations own a household computer, while just 15.8% can go online from home. By the end of the year, the ITU estimates that half a billion households worldwide will have access to the Internet. That accounts for nearly 30% of all households worldwide. Furthermore, global broadband subscriptions are also on the rise, jumping from 471 million in 2009 to 555 million in 2010.

"Access varies widely by region," according to Reuters, "with 65 percent of people online in Europe, ahead of 55 percent in the Americas, compared with only 9.6 percent of the population in Africa and 21.9 percent in Asia/Pacific, the ITU said."

"Broadband is the next tipping point, the next truly transformational technology," ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure told the news agency on Tuesday. "It can generate jobs, drive growth and productivity and underpin long-term economic competitiveness."


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